Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tasty Cheesy Tots

One of our favorite fast food items in this family is Cheddar Rounds from Pal's, a small but wonderful chain of fast food restaurants in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.  They're on the breakfast menu and they can best be described as bites of golden goodness- fried round hash browns stuffed with gooey cheese inside.

 They're delicious.  So delicious.  

Anyway, the other day my daughter and I were discussing whether or not we might be able to recreate them at home.  Spoiler alert: we didn't.  We did, however, make some pretty amazing cheesy tater tots that everyone loved and come up with a recipe that we will be making again and again!

To be fair, It think with a couple small modifications to the recipe we could have come close to the Cheddar Rounds we love- I think maybe a mix of American and cheddar cheeses mixed and stuffed inside of the shredded potatoes would have come closer to the original.  Rather than stuffing the hash browns with cheese we ended up mixing the cheese in with the potato and seasonings- so there was delicious cheese throughout.

These little crispy golden gems were sooooooo good.

I headed off diet disaster by only frying up maybe 1/3 of the batch and freezing the rest.  I placed the tots that I wasn't planning on frying that day on a lined baking sheet in the freezer and then transferred to a freezer bag once they were frozen so they wouldn't stick together and would hold their shape. 
I verified later that evening that they fry up just beautifully from frozen when my husband decided that he was in need of a late night snack.  :-)

Anyway, back to the tots.  I combined cheddar and fontina, but you could totally use any combination of cheeses that you prefer.  Or just stick with cheddar.  :-)

I used the large grater on my food processor to shred the potatoes, but I'm pretty sure you could cut out some of the cook time and work for this recipe by using frozen shredded potatoes.

I mixed the seasonings and cheese mixture in with the shredded potatoes, shaped into most of them into thick discs (I was going for the Cheddar Round experience after all...) and some into large tots, breaded the discs in egg and panko, and fried.

Guys.  These are delicious.  Do yourself a favor and double the recipe so you can freeze the rest for later since they are a little labor intensive!

2 1/2 lb russet potatoes, washed and peeled
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 oz grated cheddar cheese
3 oz grated fontina cheese
1/2 C flour
4 large eggs, whisked
2 C panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Table salt to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add whole potatoes to water and allow to boil until just softening and not mushy, about 15-20 minutes.

2. Use a food processor grater to shred potatoes and allow to cool. Work seasoned salt, garlic powder, black pepper, cheddar cheese, and fontina cheese into shredded potatoes until well combined. Shape 2 Tbsp potato mixture into thick disc shapes.

3. Place flour in one bowl, eggs in a second bowl, and panko in another bowl. Roll shaped tots in flour, coat with egg, and coat with panko.

4. Heat 2" oil in heavy-bottomed pan to 350 degrees F. Fry each tot until crispy and golden, about 4 minutes. Allow to cool on paper towel-lined tray and sprinkle with salt before serving.

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